Oil edged down towards $79 a barrel on Wednesday on weaker Asian equities and a steady dollar.

Losses were limited, however, after industry data showed a surprise large drawdown in US crude inventories.

Crude for December delivery fell $0.12 to $79.43 a barrel by 06.47 GMT (2.47am EDT), after settling up $0.87 on Tuesday, its first rise in four days. London Brent crude was down $0.17 at $77.75, reported Reuters.

The American Petroleum Institute data showed after the contract’s settlement on Tuesday that US crude stocks fell by 3.5 million barrels last week, compared with a forecast for a 1.8 million barrel build in a Reuters poll.

The data showed, however, that US gasoline and distillate supplies fell less than expected, reported Reuters.

While the price of crude is up about 78% this year, it remains about 46% less than a high of more than $147 a barrel reached in July last year.

Opec oil ministers said this week that the producer group may raise output at a meeting in December if global crude stocks rapidly fall.